• So Many Dreams Swinging out of the Blue – Oh Let Them Come True

    August 9th 2016. CAC returning volunteer Frederick Schwarzmaier wrote about his time in Malawi with the Banda Bola Foundation.

    “We lack messages that reach the households for active participation in matters like early marriage, school drop-outs, Tuberculosis and Malaria deaths, HIV/AIDS, domestic violence and sanitation issues” proclaimed Judith Manda, the chairperson of Malengamzoma Women Empowerment Forum, on the first day of our ‘ASK for Choice’ program that focuses on gender equality and female empowerment. We quickly found that it would be vital to address the topics of child rights, women’s rights and health & wellness with fun, far-reaching and universally applicable games throughout our programs in Chituka Village. During the program we thoroughly enjoyed the support and advice of our local partner Keni Banda, co-founder of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Division, a persistent fighter of inequality in his homeland.

    It aches hearing stories about children, especially girls, dropping out of school because of early marriage or pregnancy – often suppressed by their male counterparts. Commonly uttered statements like “Mothers desperately wishing for grandchildren” or “We need our children as working power” are entirely egotistical  and short-sighted. It comes as no surprise that Malawi has a female literacy rate of only 58.6% compared to the global average of 82.7%. Denying children the right to education forces them down an alley of broken dreams and uncertainty. Affected children will likely never have the chance to make up for their lost years in school – particularly in countries like Malawi where opportunity is a scarce commodity. People focus too much on the short-term benefits while also lacking foresight. This may seem rational to many as benefits can be realized promptly. However, sustainable success will fail to happen when people act for their own benefit and interest –  admittedly this is a subliminal process as fear and uncertainty are driving factors when making those decisions. Nonetheless, as Barack Obama said before he was inaugurated, “We must ask not just ‘Is it profitable?’ but ‘Is it right?’”. I don’t claim this pointing at Malawian grown-ups but to every adult in the world. We have reached the point where when something does not make money, it is not a priority. Too often we tend to undermine and neglect long-term as well as indirect benefits. We need to restructure our society, how it is set up and re-prioritize what values are important. Profit of the individual should never be more important than education and human life. The fact that it is, is a problem.

    Why are these decisions made so often? Intellectual and material poverty triggers these decisions. If one fights for survival every day it comes natural to put oneself first. In order to make healthy decisions on somebody’s behalf, one needs to act unselfishly to a certain degree. But how to act unselfishly if you don’t possess anything? The question itself seems absurd and contradictory. When you only give but not receive, it needs a lot of love and greatness to act selflessly.

    Over the past week, we were talking a lot about our future which is the children. Sadly, they have no voice, they are not given any choices and they are restricted by culture and customs. To change these unhealthy patterns, culture and custom norms need to be reconsidered and education needs to be made a priority. Reconsideration of norms and particularly education are investments in the future. The more educated we become, the more opportunities will arise. Moreover, education can prevent cases such as child trafficking, alcohol and drug abuse, and other social issues. The term ‘education’ must not be limited to an antiquated view of going to school but to a broader one that also conveys children their rights. Education in this sense can make dreams come true again.

    To disrupt this vicious cycle of unhealthy choices at the expense of others we need local superheroes of any gender and age. We need people with courage, persistence, the vision for a better tomorrow and the drive to lead change in their communities. However, in recent years we have made leadership about changing the world. But there is no world, there are only seven billion and counting understandings of it and we must respect every single one. If we can change the people’s understanding of it, understanding of what they are capable of and understanding of how much people care about them, we might change the circumstances. This is where the local coaches come in – our superheros. Small actions that come in numbers can make a big difference.

    Although our team in Chitkua Village comes from three different continents, our common understanding is equality. Coaches Across Continents will not retreat from standing up for equal rights and opportunity, neither will I or should you.

    Our participants in Chituka Village proved that change for the better is possible. While the children were sent away from the sessions at the beginning of the week; at the end they were included. We had a great time in Chituka Village and time flew by as swiftly as in a good movie. I sometimes felt like I was in a movie when driving in those overcrowded mini-buses or walking across the fields on paths landlocked by head-high crops and miles of car-suitable roads. However, the movie is not over yet and people are still writing their script. For that purpose, we imparted fact-based knowledge, fresh insights and alternative approaches to help them make healthy choices for a better communal living. I hope they are writing towards a happy ending but only the future will tell.

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  • Kuku Dance in Dodoma

    CAC volunteer CJ Fritz discusses his first week in Tanzania with Dodoma Stars.

    November 11th 2015. After having a week off to travel half way across the globe, Nora, Ruben and I reunited once again in Tanzania. Our six-week excursion through Tanzania began last week in the capitol city of Dodoma.

    The participants went crazy for Hands Against HIV – a sexual health game where players form a circle around one participant and attempt to “infect” him/her with HIV/AIDS by striking them below the knees with a ball. On multiple occasions while playing, they seemed like kids again, begging to play for just a few more minutes. The message of the game sunk in well and they had a great time playing it.

    Nothing, though, brought more smiles from the group than the Kuku Dance – a variation on the Chicken Dance – that Nora made popular during her last coaching stint in Africa. The group adopted it as their go-to celebration throughout the week.

    From start to finish our group of about 40 participants were challenged by the idea of letting children make too many decisions. From a very young age, children in the Tanzanian school system are not given the option to decide many things for themselves and, as products of that system it was logical that they didn’t seem to think that it was much of an issue. It took some time, but by the end of the week they began to come around about the topic; hopefully they will continue to work toward employing self-directed learning for their students and players.

    We had twenty hours with participants throughout the week and spent three afternoons at local elementary schools where participants took turns coaching CAC games from our sessions. The kids had a blast and the participants absolutely loved putting their newfound knowledge to use.

    We had to cancel one afternoon session at a school since it was the day of the inauguration of Tanzania’s new President Magufuli. Although it was a national holiday, the participants still came to our session. In the week leading up to the inauguration, people were in high spirits about their newest leader. Major roads were decorated with Magufuli posters and CCM – Magufuli’s political party – flags. Not only were the roads decorated, but just about every third person served as a walking Magufuli advertisement. So, on Thursday afternoon, eyes turned from the pitch to the television.

    It was an absolute delight to begin our time in Tanzania with this group from Dodoma. They were some of the happiest, most positive people who I have ever had the pleasure to meet. They greeted us every morning with huge smiles and met every new game and challenge with positivity and enthusiasm. Their great attitude as a group made the week a smooth and enjoyable success.

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  • Alicia Johnson Run’s For CAC

    March 19th 2015. Alicia Johnson, former CAC volunteer, ran the Los Angeles marathon last Sunday on behalf of CAC. Not only was Alicia able to run the 26.2 miles but she also managed to raise over $3000 for Coaches Across Continents in the process. Her efforts will help CAC to run our sport for social impact programs all over the world. We would like to thank her on behalf of the communities and youth we serve. Alicia volunteered with CAC in 2011 in Gansbaii, South Africa and with the Special Olympics in Namibia. She now lives and works in LA for Goldman Sachs.

    Over 92% of the money donated to Coaches Across Continents goes directly to our global programs, creating social change through sport. Do you have an upcoming fundraiser or event? Why not raise money for youth from disadvantaged communities in some of the poorest areas of the world? To find out more about fundraising on Coaches Across Continents’ behalf please email . The money you raise will address major social problems such as gender inequality, conflict resolution, child rights and HIV/AIDS behavior change.

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